Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Glass half-empty or half-full? Drought presents tough decisions for some ranchers and opportunities for others.

Over the past 6 months, exceptionally dry climate conditions have left many ranchers to make decisions that in a "perfect world", no one would have to encounter. My family was no exception to this. Although, I feel that there are MANY, MANY cattle producers in parts of Texas that are much worse off. 
In August, Dad and I decided that we would have to sell the cows. Our ranch is located in the SW part of Kansas. The county we live in predominately consists of cropland and there are a limited number of acres used for grazing. Because of this, we send our cows to grass in the central part of Kansas for the summer and fall until we wean the calves.  This summer, because of the current drought, we decided to wean the calves early and move them home.  We got to work trying to market our cows and a family from Nebraska that I became close to during my internship, decided they were interested and would like to buy part of our herd. This turned out to be a great opportunity for us and them.  Our cows went to a good home with LOTS of green grass and the family is getting to enjoy them! Their little girl already decided which cow was her favorite and it turned out to be my favorite cow too! 
This is one of the calves from the last calf crop!
We are planning to hang on to the calves and bred heifers in hope of rebuilding the herd once it starts raining again.  For many ranchers, I would imagine one of the most frustrating things in selling out and feeling like you will have to start "all over again".  Cattle producers spend many years building up the genetics in their herd and when it comes to selling the cows, it feels as though you are losing all the progress you made and having to start over. Here is where the young ranchers come in. It gives them an opportunity to buy high quality cattle and begin building and expanding a herd of their own. 
I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for my family, even though the given situation was not something that was planned, hoped for, or even desired, it has turned out for the best. We have built a relationship with the family that purchased our cows and we will continue to communicate with them for the years to come.  We haven't totally lost all our hard work. We still have the calves and a few bred heifers to begin rebuilding with. 
So, glass half full or half empty? For us, it's definitely a "glass half full"! It's all about perspective and how you choose to look at things. Like my Dad always says, "Things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out". 

The cows when the grass was green! 

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